That was the comment I received from the PSC co-ordinator of the winning school, All Saints in Sheffield. It was particularly heartening because, as usual, I had included them in my January letter to all schools in the Province. During the afternoon she had said to me that all my previous letters had been ignored by her (eight of them). However, she had decided to ‘give it a go’ this year. What a decision! It also shows that persistence can pay off.
Of the five schools who entered, we also had another who competed for the first time. This one, St Bernard’s, Rotherham, also proved to be a winner – the highest placed Key Stage 4 (Year 11) winner. We had decided to inaugurate the new award because in our previous seven competitions, all but one had been won by a Year 12 pupil (we don’t allow Year 13 to enter as we believe that it definitely disadvantages the Year 11 pupils – we have a number of 11-16 schools in the Province, so hence they do not have Years 12 and 13 pupils). This proved to be a popular decision with the year 11 entrants and the school and its winner were delighted with the Trophy. The Province is again thankful to the Neal family for this addition as the original winning trophy was presented by the late Frank Neal.
Another new departure for us was the appointment of the MC. David Hawley, our previous MC said that it was time for him to retire. We took the decision to ask a speaker from our first competition, Jessica Trueman (who just happens to be the granddaughter of ex-Director of Province 3, Tony Deighton) to be the MC. Jess is a young teacher in Coventry and provided a young and very capable MC on the day.
It was heartening to have five schools entering, each with two speakers. We allow two per school because it causes less nervousness on the day – will all turn up? Remarkably, all did. We had previously received emails from schools (both 11-16) saying that they couldn’t enter this year as they were too busy ‘catching up’ after the effects of Covid. One of those schools had entered every year.
Our overall winner of the Mary Neal Trophy, Ephraim Aboagye, spoke on the topic “To be woke is important”. This was also the topic of the second placed speaker, while Catherine Srikanth, the winner of the Key Stage 4 Trophy, the Frank Neal Trophy, spoke on “Our greatest hope”. As has been usual over the eight years we have held the competition, there were more female entrants than male – seven to three. However, as usual the winner was male – seven males to one female winner. I wonder what the ratio of the national winners is. We haven’t had a National winner yet – of course we are handicapped with limiting our age entry to Year 12 – but are very hopeful of achieving that milestone this year.
Funding the competition is always a problem. We do not seem to be able to attractPo sponsors so are reliant on the generosity of the Circles and individual Brothers. All the Circles contribute £30 and quite a few Brothers act as Patrons and generously donate between £25 -£50 each (with one Circle also chipping in an extra £25). Once again, we managed to balance the books.
City of Lincoln Circle has cause to celebrate as Sidney McFarlane has been honoured by the University of Lincoln and had an Honorary Doctorate conferred upon him in recognition of his service to the University and his contribution to the wider community. Many congratulations Dr Sidney!
The Annual Fountains Abbey Mass will return from its pandemic shutdown 12 Noon on Friday 20 August 2021, The Feast of St Bernard. Please make a date in your diary. Ticketing and admission details have not yet been agreed and will depend on the Government Covid Restrictions prevailing at the time. The Celebrant will be Fr Richard Duffield from The Oratory in Formation, York.
If there is a Brother, Wife or family members willing to play the keyboard for the Mass, there is one available at Fountains, would they please get in touch with Provincial Director John Tweddle to discuss.
Harrogate Circle claimed the Snuff Box from Huddersfield at their February meeting